Analysis: Syria’s President Bashar Assad spoke with Charlie Rose over the weekend – his first television interview since President Obama asked Congress to approve a military strike against Syria. The interview was promoted on CBS This Morning.
In fast moving if not dueling press manipulations, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s apparently “off-hand” remark was accepted as serious (which it did seem to be at the time) by Russia’s foreign minister. Did Kerry bluff and get called or did he joke about death and destruction with no regard – whatever is best for the administration must be what he meant.
Sunday CBS’s Bob Schieffer previewed the Assad interview which was held at the Presidential Palace in Damascus. This was Assad’s first with an American TV network in nearly two years. Rose reported the Syrian leader addressed allegations that his regime used chemical weapons against his own people. Assad denied involvement.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark suggesting Syria could avert a military strike by turning over its chemical weapons program, was accepted by Russia’s foreign minister who said it was a great idea – he said Russia would help and proposed the Assad regime do just that.
Sergey Lavrov added that Russia will push Syria to place its chemical weapons under international control.
“If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said.
Kerry’s comments were made during an earlier press conference in London. Kerry was quoted asserting that if Bashar Assad wanted to defuse the crisis, “he could turn every single bit of his chemical weapons over to the international community” within a week.
But Kerry later claimed that Assad “isn’t about to do it” — and an aide suggested the secretary was not being serious. Just like other members of President Obama’s administration, Kerry never takes his own words seriously – he knows them.
Walking back simplistic and politically self-aggrandizing (if not harmful) speech with arrogance, this is President Obama’s expert on foreign policy – past and present.
Fox News quotes State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in “clarification” that Kerry “was making a rhetorical argument about the impossibility and unlikelihood of Assad turning over chemical weapons he has denied he used.”
She added: “His point was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons otherwise he would have done so long ago.”